For centuries, roses have been considered one of the most popular garden plants.
They come in a range of colors, shapes and sizes.
Some are grown for their use in floral arrangements or for their fragrance while others are enjoyed in the garden. Roses have had a spectacular rise in popularity in recent years because of the breeding work that has been done and because of how easy these new varieties are to grow.
When I first started gardening, most people grew hybrid tea roses because they would have a repeat blooming cycle while others grew climbing roses to adorn a fence or arbor. The hybrid tea or modern roses were developed to re-bloom from spring to frost, a most desired trait.
Climbing roses and most old-timey shrub roses had a glorious flush of flowers in the spring, then the flowering was over for the rest of the year. Today, more and more people are planting landscape or shrub roses because they bloom from spring until frost, have a long life and require very little attention.
There are several companies that have been hard at work to produce easy-care shrub roses. The Conard-Pyle Company came to the market with the knockout rose. The first one was a single red rose, which was quickly followed by double blooms and different colors. They now have seven knockout roses that come in red, pink, yellow, white and even rainbow.
This same company has also produced drift roses, which are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniature roses. The winter hardiness, disease resistance, and toughness came from the ground cover rose, and the well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature came from the miniature rose. These low-spreading roses are great to have draping over a wall or as a ground cover on a slope.
They can also be used in the front of a border or to plant in a smaller garden.
They grow 1 to 2 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. They, too, bloom from spring to fall and other than cutting them back in late winter there is very little maintenance that is required.
David Austin, an English rose breeder, spent 50 years of intensive breeding to produce the David Austin’s English Rose series. One of the guiding principles in his breeding program was that he wanted the natural, shrubby growth of the old shrub rose and the repeat flowering of modern roses.
His work paid off and the David Austin has produced a large number of shrub roses with a repeat blooming habit and many of his newer ones are disease resistant. Some of his more disease resistant ones are Claire Austin, Boscobel, Princess Alexandra of Kent and Lady Shalott.
Earth-Kind is another designation of roses. These are rose cultivars that were selected by Texas A&M extension service after extensive research and field trials. They were evaluated for good resistance to insects and disease, plus they require no chemical sprays and very little additional watering.
Some of these that I know and have grown are carefree beauty, the fairy, new dawn, and the knockout series.
Choosing roses for your garden is a personal decision. Choosing a color that you like is probably the first decision you will make. Finding one with fragrance is also important to many people. Make sure the dimensions of the rose suit the location where you plan for the rose to be planted. Do not buy more roses than you can plant successfully in your garden.
Roses will grow in almost any soil as long as the soil is well drained and some well-rotted manure is added to the planting area. Remember all roses like to be fed. You can do this with well-rotted manure, slow release fertilizer, special rose food or a combination of these.
The easiest way is to add two cups of a slow-release fertilizer.
Winter pruning is also advised. This is done just when the temperatures are warming in late February or early March. This will help produce more flowers on the new growth that develops. Cut the bush to about half of its size and you will have a good shape and lots of flowers that will come on the new wood that is produced.
Roses also require some additional water, especially the first year when they are putting down their roots. Roses are deep-rooted plants and once established, the hardier varieties take less additional water, but they do need some when they are getting established.
Roses are a wonderful plant to add to any garden.
They look nice tucked in a perennial border, as a hedge or in a bed by themselves. With the variety of hardy roses available today, spraying can be a thing of the past. Visit your local garden center and learn more about the varieties they carry. Today, growing roses is a pleasurable task.
Betty Montgomery, master gardener and author of a “Four Season Southern Garden,” can be reached at bmontgomery40@gmail.com.